Property Protection: Legal Right Protection
Intellectual property, although intangible, is still ownable
and your intellectual property rights should be protected.
Modern business, especially since the rise of the internet
has seen a rise in the creation of intellectual property.
However the internet makes it even easier for someone to steal
your ideas and work. An intellectual property lawyer who is
trained to help reclaim patent, trademark, copyright and trade
secret rights can help protect your intellectual property.
Types of intellectual property include patents, trademarks
and trade dress, copyrights, and trade secrets.
A patent is granted by the government allowing a (usually)
20 year monopoly on an invention previously “not generally
known.” Patents are intended to encourage investment
in research and development. If you create a new useful process
for doing something, a machine, manufacture, or even an improvement
on something already in existence, you can patent your invention
and prohibit others from “making, using, offering for
sale, or selling�or importing” the invention in the
U.S. Your right to patent your invention is a constitutional
right (Article I, section 8). Patents are subdivided into
three groups: design, utility, and plant. Design patents protect
innovations in the appearance (although not the structure
or function) of an item. Utility patents are for wholly new
inventions including machines, industrial processes, compositions
of matter, and articles of manufacture. Plant patents cover
innovations in plant-life, such as new species of plant created
from the reproduction of cuttings and grafts of existing plants.
Patent lawyers will research previously granted patents for
you to see if a similar product has already been patented
or whether you should apply for a patent for your invention.
A patent attorney will also tell you if your idea is not patentable
because it is a law of nature, a physical phenomena, or abstract.
You should find a specialized patent or intellectual property
attorney because in order to prosecute a client’s patent
application, he or she must be registered with the U.S. patent
office. A patent lawyer will also have to have passed a science
and engineering exam to better understand and serve clients.
Trademarks are granted for words, names, symbols, or devices
which separate and distinguish businesses and services. These
include arbitrary names such as Kodak, suggestive names such
as Caterpillar (tractors), descriptive names which indicated
the business’ products or services, and generic names
which are descriptive. Generic and some descriptive names
cannot be protected, so a trademark or intellectual property
lawyer should be consulted to see if your name qualifies for
trademark rights. You can also file an intent-to-use application
to reserve a name that will later be trademarked. (This is
especially important with the expansion of business on the
Trademark lawyers can also be sought to make sure that your
new business isn’t using a registered mark. The consequences
for using a registered mark, even though you may have put
money and advertising into promoting your business, include
being sued for infringement.
Copyrights protect the individual’s expression of an
idea, but do not protect the idea itself (see patent). Copyrights
are intended to promote scientific progress. You can copyright
your writing, performance (music, dance), art, sound, compilations.
You cannot copyright ideas or uncompiled facts, words, or
phrases (these could be registered as trademarks, though,
so consult an intellectual property lawyer). If you come up
with an idea or invention while working for a company, it
is able to be patented or trademarked by the company you work
for, but copyrightable work belongs to you, the employee,
not the company employing you. However, there are loopholes,
and an intellectual property lawyer will help you both with
the process of getting your expression copyrighted but will
also save you trouble and time in getting over road blocks.
If you are a company, you need an intellectual property lawyer
who specializes in copyrights because especially with internet
businesses, you will need to make sure that contractually
your web site design can be copyrighted to your company and
will not belong to the employee or independent contractor
who created it. This also applies to software.